Common Masculine Themes of Superheroes Explained in Complex Masculinities: The Superhero in Modern American Movies

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Complex Masculinities: The Superhero in Modern American Movies attempts to encapsulate the essential elements that make masculinities complex by means of mass media. The question of where and why superheroes have held such a salient position in the last decade is aroused when it is media who is the deciding factor in institutionalizing masculinity. When looking at the surface of a superhero movie, dominant hegemonic characteristics are the epitome of the superhero and reflect the roles and values society holds of a “real man”. But, further insight as to why superheroes are constructed as they are, reflect society’s insecurities of real issues the public deals with; the post 9/11 world is relieved when faced with an unrealistic masculine…show more content…
A concept that is emphasized in such characteristics of masculinity within a superhero is how ideology influences society's idea of masculinity. Following the elements of what make up a masculine superhero, the author describes the biggest driving force of this idea of masculinity which succeeds to sway society: the human body. The male body displays power, superiority and masculine strength, and is shown through the superhero's actions. The body, prominently male, white, and beautiful, is shown to the audience in sublime ways; the use of camera shots to better get the low angles, the back shots, slow motion and the exploding background, all of which contribute to the character's persona. But, the body is an element of masculinity which displays complexity: the body's superpowers give the manly impression yet, challenge it at the same time. From a simplistic point of view, the male body is the superhero's amour and protection from the outside; he can be broken down and restored. But, the superpowers also challenge his identity, displaying a "freak-like" nature to society whom he longs to protect. The main argument put forward by the author is how the superhero's body and powers it presents both contribute to emphasize and hinder the masculine role. Next, the author points out the “Other” the audience sees in the superhero movies and the role they play to demonstrate masculinity. A

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